Celinda Jungheim's Story
When I was committed to Camarillo State Mental Hospital in California for yet
another suicide attempt, after rotating in and out of both private and State
hospitals, after many, many shock treatments, medications, and almost daily visits
with the psychiatrist—all to no avail, I certainly felt hopeless and thought
there was no life for me. Hence the suicide attempts.
I was committed with the diagnosis of schizophrenia, however that
has never been confirmed, and I am more likely bipolar (although that has
been confirmed either). I do know that I had bouts of depression as a young
child that got worse through my teenage and college years. My complete breakdown
to a nonfunctioning state happened in my mid-20s.
While at the hospital I started to attend the Recovery, Inc. meetings
that were held twice weekly, and I knew instantly that the common sense techniques
that I would learn in that group would help me get well. It was a long, slow
climb, but by attending the meetings, getting support from the other members
of the group, and practicing what I was learning, I began to feel better and
function better. Soon I was able to get a job, and my son came back to live
I combated stigma as it came along. When I started my job I felt certain
that I would never be able to do it because I was afraid that they would "see"
my illness and fear. One member of the staff said, "Don't be nervous. You'll
do fine." It made me realize that they weren't seeing my mental illness. They
just saw someone nervous about doing a good job.
When I was asked to be interviewed for a newspaper story, I was excited
to think that I could help other people know about Recovery, Inc. and the possibilities
of getting well. I forgot that all my friends and colleagues would also see
it. The response was amazing. I got calls from so many people that were either
interested in Recovery, Inc. for themselves or a friend, or just to applaud
me. There were a few that made snide remarks; I chose to ignore them. After
all, if I was functioning at my highest level ever, then why should I be ashamed
Since those early days I have made more attempts to break the stigma by
telling coworkers and friends about my illness, and by speaking out in the
mental health community. I know there are many places where stigma still exists,
but we can keep fighting it a step at a time.
I'm proud to say that today I feel "well." I still have periods of strong
symptoms, but I have learned to manage them using my Recovery, Inc. techniques. And Recovery, Inc. has also taught me when I need to see a doctor for additional